Imagine a king, a foreigner, a lost princess and a queen who does not really exist but has a mind of her own, and talks, makes love and has her own servants. The latest novel by Salman Rushdie, which I believe to be one of the greatest author of our time, is full of enchantment, stories, and imagination.
This is once again a complex novel by Rushdie, and I believe that I need to read it again to fully comprehend the meaning hiding between the lines. At this point I would say it is an ode to imagination. Rushdie shows that imagination helps us see beyond the borders and what is directly in front of us. It can even bring people to life, such as King Akbar's imaginary wife Jodha, and it can bring us wisdom and tolerance of other worlds. Too much imagination, however, may cause us to lose all touch with reality.
What also stands out in this novel is the issue of religion. Not so much a religion in particular, but religion in general. Rushdie seems to critique monotheism as detrimental to one's imagination, as well as polytheism as imagination run amok.
I give it a tentative 4 stars because the language was once again amazingly beautiful, but I'm not fully convinced I like this novel. It is too Arabian nights for my taste, that is to say, full of princes and kings, giants and warriors, jealous queens and princesses, enchanted pictures and omens, castles and dungeons, etc., etc. While some readers might feel that this adds value to the novel I can't help but feeling it is a bit cliché. Because even though Rushdie is an icon of magical realism, I believe his previous books have a magical quality that has evolved far beyond that of Arabian nights.
But I'm still willing to believe that if I read it again I might appreciate it better.